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Posted On: 18 March 2009 08:22 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:09 pm

Virgin’s stem cell project to cost £9mn in Qatar Science and Technology Park

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Virgin Health Bank’s umbilical cord blood stem cell storage project at QSTP calls for a total of £9mn investment, board member and Europe’s leading biotechnology entrepreneur Prof Sir Christopher Evans said yesterday. Both Virgin and Prof Evan’s private equity house Excalibur have already spent $10mn and another $10mn is in the pipeline. “Excalibur has so far invested $50 to 60mn in stem cell research,” he said while referring to the global operations. Referring to the interest Virgin Health Bank QSTP has generated in the local community, QSTP managing director Dr Eulian Roberts said they have received a number of calls asking about cord blood stem cell storage. Virgin Group founder and Virgin Health Bank co-founder Sir Richard Branson recalled meeting at QSTP’s inaugural event on Monday evening a lady who had to go to the UK to give birth so as to get the cord blood stem cells stored. “Over the years I have met many, many people who said they wished that they had stored their babies’ cord blood stem cells,” Prof Evans recalled. Regarding the selection of Qatar as the new headquarters for VHB, he maintained that HH Sheikha Mozah Nasser al-Misnad was very keen on the project. “Further, we realised this was the place for a long-term play as Qatar has the commitment to a long term scientific vision,” Prof Evans said while adding that they also looked at Dubai and Abu Dhabi. About the charges for cord blood stem cell storage at Virgin Health Bank QSTP, Hamad Medical Corporation managing director Dr Hanan al-Kuwari said that various options are being considered and a final decision is yet to be taken. “We have also got the endorsement from prominent Islamic scholar Dr Yousuf Qaradawi,” Virgin Health Bank QSTP CEO David Macauley said. The officials also revealed that the Virgin Health Bank QSTP will eventually open its services to the region as well. “We can send kits and people to collect cord blood from other countries in the region,” Branson added. The board of Virgin Health Bank QSTP comprises Prof Evans, Dr al-Kuwari, QSTP executive chairman Dr Tidu Maini, Virgin Management Limited chief executive Gordon MaCallum, Virgin Group deputy chief executive Mark Poole, Excalibur’s Investment director Dr Rony Douek, and Euclidean Life Science Advisers president Kenneth Moch.